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Englewood Dike is in dire need of repair

COOS BAY — Continued erosion and inadequate maintenance has residents in the Englewood Diking District highly concerned over its dike’s future.

“It’s old and deteriorating by the second,” said Englewood Diking District Superintendent Tom Gollihur. “We’ve been able to do some minor repairs, but we need to find a long term permanent solution.”

Ed Glazar 

Tom Gollihur, Superintendent of the Englewood Diking District, stands Thursday near a leak in the dike that flanks his property in Coos Bay.

The district, which is responsible for the Englewood Dike, has been struggling for years to keep up with the dike’s maintenance. Insufficient funding and lack of resources has prevented its members from fully repairing the dike on its own, which was originally constructed in 1856.

“We charge an annual maintenance assessment of $50 per acre,” said Gollihur. “So, each year we get about $2,800 which is woefully inadequate to maintain a dike that is over 160 years old.”

During the winter season, high tides coupled with strong winds and increased rainfall is what Gollihur said are his main concerns. The combination, he explained, increases the possibility of the dike breaching due to the added pressure on an already weak structure.

In addition to erosion, the dike has also suffered from nutria digging holes into the dike, causing water to leak through its barrier, said Gollihur.

“It looks like Swiss cheese down there,” he said. “We’ve been able to patch them up with dirt and sand bags when needed.”

Although the dike hasn’t flooded since 2006, which caused severe damage to dozens of homes in the area, Gollihur said the district has already faced a number of issues this year alone including tide gate complications which has caused the field near his property to partially flood.

Since 2015, the district has reached out to a number of agencies including the City of Coos Bay, as well as Coos County Commissioners in seeking assistance to help make repairs.

Steven Chan 

A woman steps over sandbags into her home as water breaching the Englewood Dike floods private property off California Avenue in Coos Bay on Friday.

While the majority of the district lies on county land, Commissioner John Sweet said the county also has limited funding and was in no position to provide financial assistance. As for the City of Coos Bay, which purchased flood prone homes on Old Wireless Lane using Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding in 2006, it too cited limited resources and budget constraints as deterrents.

According to Coos Bay City Manager Roger Craddock, the city discussed potential recreational grants and projects to fix the dike at previous work session meetings in 2017. At one point, the city negotiated a FEMA grant, valued at $125,000, to draft and design a repair, but the district was unable to come up with its 20 percent matching fee.

Although the dike is not within city limits, portions of Southwest Boulevard, which is a city owned road, will be impacted if a breach were to happen. The city also has a main sewer line in the area that will have to be relocated and replaced if flooded.

“We have already placed a small berm on the low spot of Southwest Boulevard,” said Craddock. “A long term fix would be to raise the road and move the sewer line. The city is coming up with plans and designs to have in place and ready when money does become available.”

Recently, Gollihur said he reached out the Coos Watershed Association for assistance and is looking into potential grants centered on fish habitat restoration after discovering a creek near the tide gate once featured coho salmon.

Steven Chan 

Water breaching the Englewood Dike floods private property off California Avenue in Coos Bay on Friday.

“Our organization works with landowners to implement win-win projects that have benefits to them and their land management goals that significantly improve watershed conditions for aquatic species,” said Coos Watershed Association Executive Director Haley Lutz in an email.

While no formal partnership has been made between the district and Coos Watershed, the group does plan on including them in its upcoming Coos County Stakeholder Engagement Project to discuss possible solutions. Gollihur estimates the cost of repairing the dike being in the millions.

Steven Chan 

Tom Gollihur, superintendent of the Englewood Diking District, talks to his neighbors Friday as water floods property along the dike in Coos Bay.

“We would all sleep a lot better not having to worry all winter long about the dike,” said Gollihur. “While not all the homes in the district are flood prone, we still need to rehabilitate the dike. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

North Bend High School culinary program receives donation
Donation will help the program purchase more tools and equipment

NORTH BEND — The North Bend High School culinary program received a $1,000 donation.

The donation was recognized during Monday evening’s regular school board meeting, given to the program by Greg and Barbara Rueger of Seattle, Wash. Board Chair Julianna Seldon thanked the couple at the start of the meeting.

Jillian Ward / JILLIAN WARD The World 

Devon King, a junior at NBHS, is shown how to use a pasta-extruder by culinary teacher Frank Murphy on Tuesday, March 12. The culinary program received a $1,000 donation from a couple in Seattle, Wash, which is expected to be used to purchase more tools and equipment. 

For culinary teacher Frank Murphy, the donation was a welcome surprise.

“We don’t get monetary donations very often,” he said.

According to Murphy, Barbara Rueger is from Coos County and both she and her husband have hired Blazing Bulldogs Catering for various events. The catering arm of the culinary program is one of the ways the students bring in money to help with funds.

“The (Rueger’s) have hired us on quite a few occasions, including the opening for The World’s depository at Marshfield High School and at the anniversary for the Egyptian Theatre,” Murphy said. “It was after we had done a couple catering jobs for them that they started making donations.”

Though this latest donation hasn’t been earmarked for a specific purchase yet, Murphy said the culinary students will be involved in deciding where it is spent.

Murphy said that most donations come in the form of cook books or food donations, sometimes even butchered animals that he uses to teach students how to cook various parts of an animal, including the heart.

When monetary donations come in, they either are made at the district or directly to a club through the high school, which is what the Rueger’s did.

“It will be used for buying supplies or pieces of equipment,” Murphy said. “We are always upgrading our oven or buying new tools. We are honored to get anything and this means a lot to our students. This couple is wonderful to us.”

Celebs, coaches charged in college bribery scheme

BOSTON — Fifty people, including Hollywood stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, were charged Tuesday in a scheme in which wealthy parents allegedly bribed college coaches and other insiders to get their children into some of the nation's most selective schools.

Federal authorities called it the biggest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department, with the parents accused of paying an estimated $25 million in bribes.

At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents, many of them prominent in law, finance, fashion, the food and beverage industry and other fields, were charged. Dozens, including Huffman, the Emmy-winning star of ABC's "Desperate Housewives," were arrested by midday.

"These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege," U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in announcing the results of a fraud and conspiracy investigation code-named Operation Varsity Blues.

The coaches worked at such schools as Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, Wake Forest, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California and the University of California at Los Angeles. A former Yale soccer coach pleaded guilty and helped build the case against others.

Two more of those charged — Stanford's sailing coach and the college-admissions consultant at the very center of the scheme — pleaded guilty Tuesday in Boston. Others appeared in court and were released on bail.

Several defendants, including Huffman, were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Huffman appeared in a Los Angeles courthouse where a magistrate judge said she could be released on a $250,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in court March 29 in Boston.

No students were charged, with authorities saying that in many cases the teenagers were unaware of what was going on. Several of the colleges involved made no mention of taking any action against the students.

The scandal is certain to inflame longstanding complaints that children of the wealthy and well-connected have the inside track in college admissions — sometimes through big, timely donations from their parents — and that privilege begets privilege.

College consultants were not exactly shocked by the allegations.

"This story is the proof that there will always be a market for parents who have the resources and are desperate to get their kid one more success," said Mark Sklarow, CEO of the Independent Educational Consultants Association. 

The central figure in the scheme was identified as admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer, founder of the Edge College & Career Network of Newport Beach, California. He pleaded guilty.

Singer's lawyer, Donald Heller, said his client intends to cooperate fully with prosecutors and is "remorseful and contrite and wants to move on with his life."

Prosecutors said that parents paid Singer big money from 2011 through last month to bribe coaches and administrators to falsely make their children look like star athletes to boost their chances of getting accepted. The consultant also hired ringers to take college entrance exams for students, and paid off insiders at testing centers to correct students' answers.

Some parents spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and some as much as $6.5 million to guarantee their children's admission, officials said.

"For every student admitted through fraud, an honest and genuinely talented student was rejected," Lelling said.

The investigation began when authorities received a tip about the scheme from someone they were interviewing in a separate case, Lelling said. He did not elaborate.

Authorities said coaches in such sports as soccer, sailing, tennis, water polo and volleyball took payoffs to put students on lists of recruited athletes, regardless of their ability or experience. Once they were accepted, many of these students didn't participate in the sports.

The applicants' athletic credentials were falsified with the help of staged photographs of them playing sports, or doctored photos in which their faces were pasted onto the bodies of genuine athletes, authorities said.

Prosecutors said parents were also instructed to claim their children had learning disabilities so that they could take the ACT or SAT by themselves and get extra time. That made it easier to pull off the tampering, prosecutors said.

A number of colleges moved quickly to fire or suspend the coaches and distance themselves from the scandal, portraying themselves as victims. Stanford fired the sailing coach, and USC dropped of its water polo coach and an athletic administrator. UCLA suspended its soccer coach, and Wake Forest did the same with its volleyball coach.

Loughlin, who was charged along with her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, appeared in the ABC sitcom "Full House" in the 1980s and '90s. Huffman was nominated for an Oscar for playing a transgender woman in the 2005 movie "Transamerica." She also starred in the TV show "Sports Night" and appeared in such films as "Reversal of Fortune," ''Magnolia" and "The Spanish Prisoner."

Court documents said Huffman paid $15,000 that she disguised as a charitable donation so that her daughter could take part in the entrance-exam cheating scam.

Coos Bay City Council votes to oppose TCP

COOS BAY — Last night, the Coos Bay City Council voted unanimously to oppose the Traditional Cultural Property application that the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw submitted for consideration to the National Register of Historic Places.

If approved this summer by the National Register, it would designate most of the bay as culturally significant and become the largest piece of land under this protection in Oregon.

“In my opinion we really need to get some definition on things,” said Joe Benetti, mayor of Coos Bay, during Tuesday evening's meeting. “The TCP program is one thing, but I think this application has some problems because there are so many undefined areas.”

Council members asked a number of times if the tribes would be willing to put the application on hold in order to further community education on the TCP and what it means for landowners within those areas.

“Because the option is not there to provide for a delay I am opposed to this,” said Councilor Drew Farmer. “You’ve acknowledged that this process started three years ago, and a better process would have been to talk with each other before two months ago. Because that didn’t happened, if this goes through, that puts the city in reactive footing. While this is a great process for the tribe, putting the city in a reactive position is not something I can move forward with.”

One unknown the city referenced a few times is how locally the City of Coos Bay would handle new development within the TCP. In order to evaluate a new development that occurs both within city limits and the proposed TCP, the city feels it would need to adopt a more stringent review process for new developments.

According to the tribes, private properties within the TCP will not be subject to extra state and local government regulations as there are current state and local requirements that require the protection of archaeological, historic and cultural resources.

Before the council made its decision, a public hearing was held. Members of the tribe stood up to once again to make their case when around a dozen property owners spoke against the TCP.